Nightlife » Local Events

Fire Island Underwear Party Moves to Rebel Thanksgiving Eve

by Steve Weinstein
Monday Nov 12, 2012

When it comes to men’s underwear, bigger is always better.

After the most successful summer ever for his Friday night underwear parties in Cherry Grove’s Ice Palace, Daniel Nardicio is not about to rest on his laurels. No hibernation, no siree. This man is no bear -- nor are low-bodyfat muscled young’uns who migrated from the Pines by the hundreds every weekend to his Grove parties.

Nardicio is taking his internationally known franchise into the city, but for one night only (for now). The D-World Underwear Party will take place Wednesday, Nov. 21, at Rebel, the multi-storied club at 251 W. 30th St. in Manhattan, between Seventh and Eight Avenues.

Never one for modesty, Nardicio is claiming that this will be the largest such party in the world. Unfortunately, this will not become a matter of record. Nardicio says he contacted the "Guinness Book of World Records," but the organization declined to certify his party.

"I did some research," Nardicio told EDGE. "I couldn’t find anything else nearly as big. There have been other parties, but not where clothes check is mandatory. I contacted Guinness, but they didn’t bother responding to me."

Hmmm, interesting. Let’s do a check list!

Hot-dog eating contest:
• Annual hot dog-eating contest held every July 4th in Coney Island, in which people eat as many hot dogs as possible within a certain time frame.
• Promoting adult obesity, the worst health problem in this country? Check!
• Promoting wasteful use of food in a starving world? Check!
• Promoting consumption of nutritionally dubious meat product? Check!
• No clue whatsoever of the obvious phallic connotations of gluttons shoving more penis-shaped meaty objects down their gullets than Marcus Bachmann in the tea room at an ex-gay retreat? Check!

D-World Underwear Party:
• Now, on the other side: over 1,000 in-shape energetically dancing, celebrating their lives and celebrating their community while dressed in expensive undergarments? No check.

Remember your mother admonishing you to wear clean underwear because you never know when you’ll be in an accident? Mothers know these things.

Just as at the Fire Island bacchanals, everyone who comes to Rebel will have to strip down to his tighty-whities. (These days, considering what one pays for "designer underwear," more like tighty-silver-band-embroidered-pinkpastel grommit with pink stitching). That goes ditto for women, who are most definitely welcome (Nardicio has never had patience for male-exclusive events). Be be warned, ladies: Whatever they told you in your last conscience-raising meeting, you’d better be wearing a bra. It’s not that Daniel minds, but if city inspectors hear Rebel’s been allowing Janet Jackson NFL Hafltime naughties, it could jeopardize their liquor license.

The reason for the mandatory clothes check is, Nardicio says, to "level the playing field." Also, people can’t bring In their blasted cell phones as easily. Just as the Black Party is the Vegas of Circuit events,, what goes on in Rebel stays in Rebel. Don’t even think of tweeting a photo of some celebrity or our boss dancing the night away in an outfit that gives new meaning to the term "boxer cut."

An underwear party only works when everyone is (un)dressed equally. This eliminates the vibe that some guys are "above" checking their clothes.

"If you keep your clothes, you’re not part of the party," Nardicio says. "There’s a power dynamic at work. At the Ice Palace everyone appreciates the level playing field. It’s good for gay men to see that everyone has different bodies!"

That "power dynamic" makes everyone a loser. Having some people fully clothed makes the guys who do strip down to their skivvies feel like losers. The ones who keep their clothes on also retain their "cooler than thou" attitude.

The all-strip-down rule doesn’t mean everyone likes it. Nardicio relates how, during the big Ascension Party Weekend on Fire Island, hundreds of out-of-town visitors had descended from the Grove’s neighbor, Fire Island Pines.

"They were throwing shade," he relates. "We had stand-downs at the door. It’s funny. They’d say, ’I’m not wearing underwear.’ So we’d supply it."

It won’t only be the body types that will be differentiated at Rebel. Three DJs with three distinct styles will be spinning in different rooms.

On the main floor, DJ Joe Gauthreaux will be driving the beats with the signature "Circuit-with-an-edge" musical stylings that have catapulted him into the front ranks of gay DJs. Upstairs, you can indulge your Fire Island nostalgia with two DJs most closely associated with the sounds of that magical island: Johnny Dynell, the Ice Palace’s 2012 resident DJ; and DJ Lina, whose soulful House-inflected sound helped define the Pines Sip ’n’ Twirl and whose mid-evening Lina Teas have become the see-and-be-seen place in the Pines.

Naturally, this being a Daniel Nardicio party, there will be lots and lots of good-natured raunch. After a season of inspiring political victories, count on the 15 go-go boys to bring gay shame back into the conversation. Plus aerialists will perform feats high over the dance floor that are probably still banned in the Deep South (outside of Gauthreaux’s and Nardicio’s native New Orleans, of course, including a Cirque-trained gymnast with death-defying stunts and the body of death which which to perform them.

The big event at Rebel represents a culmination, in a way, of what by anyone’s reckoning has to have been an amazing summer for Nardicio.

For the past several summers, after decamping from the Pines, Nardicio has put his formidable energy toward transforming the Grove. Although it has a larger downtown commercial than the Pines, it has only one-third as many homes, and the downtown is divided among many smaller establishments.

Because of looser atmosphere and more amenities, in recent years, the Grove has become more popular with straight and gay daytrippers. The popular perception is that is is more diverse racially and sexually, with more lesbians and people of color than the Pines.

There’s no question that for a long time the Pines was considered more popular with Manhattan’s moneyed set and the gay "A Listers." But Nardicio kept plugging the Grove as an affordable, friendly destination for cash-strapped young people.

Unquestionably, nature had a hand in Nardicio’s success this past summer. A horrific fire tore the heart out of the Pines’ downtown and left it for a while with only one bar, which doubled as a restaurant. By default, Nardicio’s Friday night underwear parties skyrocketed in popularity.

Nardicio has also shown how good an entertainment impresario with a roster of talent that any arena concert promoter would envy. He had booked a female singer before she broke big, but she didn’t bag her scheduled performance and schlepped out to the island. Thus it was that two years ago, a handful of people were able to see Lady Gaga in what was certainly her last scheduled appearance in a nightclub that only holds a few hundred people.

Last summer, Nardicio’s inspired booking of Liza Minelli and Alan Cumming made headlines in the New York Times and just about everywhere else. Liza Minelli on Fire Island was a match made in gay heaven, and the ensuing publicity ensured that anyone who hadn’t heard the Daniel Nardicio before had now.

Aside from the Rebel party, Nardicio plans on a March 13, 2013, performance by Minelli at Townhall. He’a also already planning on another mega-underwear party in the city during President’s Day Weekend next February, with 1,000 pairs of underwear and lots of cash among the prizes for categories like "most creative original underwear design" and ... well, that’s probably the only one I can mention here.

After a rift with the new owners and the pull of Fire Island led to a separation with Playgirl, he’s in talks about returning to the magazine.

Nardicio had done most of the legwork to reposition the magazine when it went to online-only, and from the "we’re for women, wink, wink" somewhat schizophrenic identity of the original product to a "we’re gay but women can look at the photos, too" much more out (and honest) approach. The magazine reached the pinnacle of Warhollian five minutes (reduced from 15, given our shortened celebrity attention spans) when it (well, Nardicio) managed to get Levi Johnston to pose naked.

Johnson (wait, you forgot already?) was the babbydaddy of Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol. The GOP spruced up the Alaskan teen before he broke with the Palin clan.

I’ve always respected Nardicio, because he’s never been less than upfront about his love of sleaze -- unlike so many of our self-righteous promoters, politicians and pundits. There’s more than a touch of the John Waters to Nardicio’s warm embrace of the tacky, the low-class and -- well, the French say it best, épater le bourgeois, which roughly translate to "pissing on middle-class morality."

To which I say: Piss, away, Daniel.

’The Missionary’s Position’

Mormons are so hot right now. Even though Mitt Romney lost, his beautiful wife and sons showed the world the (lily-whitebread) scrubbed good looks of members of the Church of Latter Day Saints. There’s also a movie coming out that fulfills every bad-boy fantasy about two Mormon missionaries who fall in love. And then there’s "The Book of Mormon" on Broadway, which includes the requisite barely closeted missionary.

So, never one not to snag his coattails to a trend, Daniel Nardicio has produced a mini-movie. With elements of "Pyscho," "A Touch of Evil" and gay porn (mostly the latter), he took his crew of New York gogo boys to a no-tell motel in the wilds of New Jersey, turned a camera on, and told them to act.

The result is fun little film that also can act as an instructional video for the next time one of those cute missionaries arrives at your doorstep.

Top 10 Reasons to Attend the Rebel D-World Party

10) It’s your last chance to expose your body to 1,000 people before getting fat during the holidays.

9) Since you’re spending more on a pair of underwear than most Americans do on their trousers, you might as well show them off.

8) Just the concept of this party makes straight men really, really uncomfortable.

7) You need to remind yourself why you moved to New York in the first place.

6) Romney had binders full of women. You’ll have a Grindr full of men.

5) You may have arrived alone, but that doesn’t mean you’ll leave alone.

4) Straight men have to pay $165 for a bottle of Grey Goose to get laid. All you have to do is put the goods on display.

3) All that’s separating your best asset (and front-et) from the world is a thin strip of cloth.

2) Fleshbot named the Dworld Underwear Party ’the most amazing weekly event in the world.’

1) If it was good enough for Gaga, it’s good enough for you, queen!

Daniel Nardicio presents ’The Dworld Underwear Party- World’s Largest Underwear Party,’ Wednesday, Nov. 21 (Thanksgiving Eve) with DJs Joe Gauthreaux, Lina and Johnny Dynell, and host Will Wikle, at Rebel Nightclub, 251 W 30th St. in Manhattan. Tickets are $25  in advance, with $5 dollars of that going to Hurricane Sandy Red Cross Relief. Get tickets at

Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early '80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007).


  • Anthony T., 2012-11-15 20:39:29

    Love his parties but to see the world biggest one should go to the Lab. in Berlin on Thursday nights, and probably closer to the big gay events (Gay pride, Easter events or Hustlaball). Thursday night at Lab. is nude only, so you don’t have choice. Hope Daniel’s parties will some day get as crowded as the ones at the Lab. Right now - no comparison. May be Guinness people were busy going to the Lab?

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